The mailman who does deliveries in Kyle Phillips’ neighborhood has been getting quite a workout during the past 10 months.
Phillips, a Hillsboro lineman, has more than 30 college offers. Among them are 11 Southeastern Conference schools, Florida State, Ohio State and Clemson.
“Our mailman has probably grown some new biceps from the amount of paper that just comes in our mailbox every day,” said Phillips’ mother, Teresa. “It’s unbelievable. One day (Kyle) was home when the mail came, and the mailman said, ‘Are you the guy that is getting heavily recruited and all this mail is coming to you?'”
Phillips answered, “Yes, sir,” and the mailman just shook his head.
Teresa Phillips stopped keeping count when the number of letters passed 2,000. Kyle estimates 3,000 or 4,000 letters are packed in boxes. “Something ridiculous,” he said.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer visited Phillips at Hillsboro on consecutive days last winter.
Most of Kyle’s offers are from big schools, but he also has one from TSU, where his mother is the athletics director.
He was a Tigers mascot in a kiddie football uniform and a ball boy in basketball when he was younger. His father, Michael, is a former TSU linebacker.
“It’s not really that awkward,” Teresa Phillips said. “It’s no different than I’m a Vandy alum. I tell him, ‘Go to the school that you are going to be happiest at that will challenge you as a person and as an athlete, and you’re going to feel comfortable at wherever it is.’ “
Kyle Phillips has narrowed his list to 11: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Stanford, Tennessee, Florida and Clemson.
“I feel like it’s still pretty wide open,” he said. “I don’t feel like anybody really has the edge. Right now.”
He would like to make his decision before the season ends, but he’s really not sure.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior is being recruited as a defensive end but also plays left offensive tackle for the Burros.
His junior season ended in the fifth game when he suffered a dislocated shoulder during a 28-16 win at McGavock. It required surgery to repair.
“It was really tough,” Phillips said. “That was really my first time really having to sit out and watch. I feel like I’m 100 percent now.”
Phillips is known for his quickness. He’s been clocked at 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash — good for a big man.
“He just has unbelievable speed for his size,” Hillsboro coach Craig Clayton said. “Really, he’s just raw right now. Right now, he’s probably a better offensive lineman, but in college he’s going to be a good defensive lineman.”
Injuries hampered the Burros last year, but they still made it to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
With a healthy Phillips and four other college prospects, Hillsboro has the potential to go deeper in the postseason this fall.
Phillips recorded 12 sacks, five forced fumbles, 35 tackles and three fumble recoveries as a sophomore. He added eight sacks last season before getting hurt.
“I think he’s a really talented pass rusher, just naturally, athletically,” said Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports. “He’s got what SEC programs look for. I think because he missed a significant portion of his junior season and he’s played both sides of the football and hasn’t specialized at defensive end there’s a lot of room for development and growth as a defender.”
Phillips’ frame offers a lot of options for college defensive coordinators. He could be a rush end, bulk up and be a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, be a situational defensive tackle or play outside linebacker.
“He’s one of those prototypical college defensive ends — a tall, lanky kid that can run,” said Hillwood coach Taylor Burks, who got a good look at Phillips during a 21-8 loss last September. “Usually colleges look for those kind of guys and find a place for them on the field at whatever position that is.”
Reach Chip Cirillo at 615-664-2194 and on Twitter @ChipCirillo.
KYLE PHILLIPS FILE
• Year: Senior
• Position: Lineman
• Height: 6-foot-4
• Weight: 260 pounds
• Key stat: 20 sacks in past 1.5 seasons